Republican candidates vying for spots on Colorado’s House, Senate, County Commissioner, and U.S. House district primary ballots this June invoked prayer, politics, and patriotism to rile up El Paso County’s Republican delegates during their March 23 assembly at Vista Ridge High School in Colorado Springs. 

Candidates received raucous applause as they repeatedly used words like battle, fight, war, God, radical left, stolen, and take back while introducing themselves to the county’s 752 delegates along with many of the party’s most dedicated conservative voters, who filled the gymnasium.

A truck parked outside the El Paso GOP Assembly displays the Christian Nationalism flag, along with an upside down American flag meant to symbolize a nation in distress.

While battle cries are nothing new in political speeches, former President Donald Trump used the words “fight” or “fighting” 20 times in the rally leading up to the capitol insurrection, even calling for the crowd to “fight like hell.” Trump is charged with four federal crimes related to the Jan. 6 attack on the capitol but has yet to face trial.

Yet, at least for Republican candidates in El Paso County, calls to go to war with opponents haven’t diminished. “Pray for us,” said Colorado House District 15 Rep. Scott Bottoms. “We really have to fight the fight. This is not politics as usual.” Bottoms has introduced legislation for the past two years to ban abortion and charge patients and providers with murder

“We’re going to fight for your constitutional rights,” said House District 22 Rep. Ken DeGraaf,  “and not just sit on the sidelines and bend to the radical left.” 

Others said they would fight for future generations, fight for their constituents and fight to protect kids from indoctrination through education they believe is “woke-based,” programs like social and emotional learning, diversity, equity and inclusion, and so-called “pornographic” books in school libraries, which typically are those featuring any LGBT-related material.

House District 16, which covers downtown and north-central Colorado Springs, was one of the few breakout meetings during the assembly where three Republican opponents, Rebecca Keltie, Lisa Czelatdko and write-in candidate Douglas Randall, faced off and only one met the 30% threshold of delegate votes to win the primary nomination.

Republicans are hoping to win the seat back from Democrats after Rep. Stephanie Vigil won the district by less than 800 votes in the 2022 general election. Still, Keltie and Czeltadko traded barbs over who was more loyal to the party, even as both conceded the need to win over the district’s more moderate unfilliated voters who outnumber registered Republicans and Democrats combined. Keltie previously ran for the Fifth Congressional District, first as a Unity Party candidate in 2020, and then as a GOP primary challenger to incumbent Doug Lamborn in 2022.

Keltie, who won with 62% of the vote, is a military veteran and told the audience, “We must hire warriors who know what they’re doing. We’re at war.”

It’s also clear many in the crowd believe the 2020 election was stolen, as the county’s party leaders demonstrated counting votes by hand and called for a ban on Dominion Voting Systems equipment. A 2022 nationwide survey of 7,255 Republicans found that MAGA Republicans, defined as those who voted for Trump in 2020 and deny the election results, are more likely than others to endorse political violence. 

Boebert Declares Church Must Save America

After spending the morning at Republican assemblies in Larimer, Adams and Arapahoe counties, which falls directly within CD4’s boundaries, U.S. Congresswoman Lauren Boebert showed up unannounced in Colorado Springs. Boebert’s bid to win another term after moving to Congressional District 4 (CD4) has nothing to do with the El Paso County Assembly.

The meeting’s sole purpose was to designate county candidates for Colorado’s primary election in June and select delegates to the congressional district and state assemblies. 

Yet, that didn’t stop her from receiving thunderous applause and rock-star treatment. Boebert posed for selfies with admirers and eventually grabbed the microphone during a break between meetings. “Where are my CD 4 patriots,” asked Boebert as only one person in the crowd of hundreds raised her hand.

“Well, you can’t vote for me, but I will continue to vote for you,” she said before shifting gears to discuss the “Build the Wall and Deport Them All Act,” she introduced earlier this month and her adamant belief that the federal government should ban abortion at any stage. 

While her fierce loyalty to Trump and far-right stance is no secret, Boebert also made no bones about connecting the church, meaning Christians, to democracy. “We need the Holy Spirit working throughout our nation…and we need the church positioned to save America,” said Boebert.

“He (God) has a wonderful reputation of working with some real losers and turning them into victors,” she continued. “If you’re going to live by faith, know there is going to be a battle, and I need each and every one of you ready for that battle.”

Boebert’s call to Christians as America’s saviors is straight out of the Christian Nationalism doctrine, which during testimony to Congress in 2022 and 2023 religious freedom expert Amanda Tyler said is “the single greatest threat to religious freedom in the United States today”

Christian nationalism is built on the idea that America is a Christian nation founded on Christian beliefs. According to Brad Onishi, a former evangelical minister who once identified as a Christian nationalist himself, Christian Nationalists are “deeply invested in the notion of spiritual warfare, the idea that we are called as Christians to fight a cosmic battle between good and evil and that it’s our duty to be boots on the ground for God in that conflict.”

Boebert echoed the notion of spiritual warfare, telling the audience that “we know there’s going to be a battle” and urging those in the audience to “fight the good fight of faith.”

Boebert and Metaxas pose with an unnamed supporter in Windsor, Colorado on March 16, 2024

Boebert also mentioned the film “Letter to the American Church,” based on Eric Metaxas’s book of the same name. In it, Metaxas compares Christians of today to Christians in Germany who were “willing to look away” while the Nazi party took control of Germany. He also draws comparisons to the regimes of Mao Zedong in China and Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union. 

Boebert attended a Metaxas event in her newly adopted town of Windsor last week. The two share the belief that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.

Metaxas gained fame as the author of the children’s cartoon VeggieTales and a best-selling biography about a German Christian pastor who plotted to assasinate Adolf Hitler. He has become a prominent voice of the evangelical right through his radio show on the conservative Salem Media platform.

According to Media Matters for America, a non-profit progressive research and information center, “Metaxas has repeatedly demonized the LGBTQ community, made deeply inappropriate comparisons to Nazi Germany and the lead-up to the Holocaust, and advised his listeners that they must engage in right-wing culture wars or else risk judgment for failing in their Christian duties.” 

A recent report published by the Pew Research Center found that 83% of Americans believe the government should not declare Christianity the official religion of the country. Only 13% support declaring Christianity the national religion.